The Code of Judicial Conduct of the District of Columbia establishes standards for the ethical conduct of judges and judicial candidates. It is not intended as an exhaustive guide for the conduct of judges and judicial candidates, who are governed in their judicial and personal conduct by general ethical standards as well as by the Code. The Code is intended, however, to provide guidance and assist judges in maintaining the highest standards of judicial and personal conduct, and to provide a basis for regulating their conduct through disciplinary agencies.
As necessary and, where concerns or complaints are raised about an individual judge’s conduct, the Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure for the District of Columbia turns to the Code of Judicial Conduct to evaluate a judge’s compliance with the letter and spirit of established ethical rules. By contrast, questions regarding the prospective interpretation of specific Canons or Rules of the Code of Judicial Conduct are evaluated by the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct of the DC Courts.
The DC Courts publish on their website at https://www.dccourts.gov/index.php/about/code-of-judicial-conduct:
- Updated versions of The Code of Judicial Conduct of the District of Columbia, including Appendices, Amendments, and Supplements
- Published opinions of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct of the DC Courts
For ease of reference, The Code of Judicial Conduct and its history are referenced below.
- On February 15, 2018, the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration approved the republication of the 2012 Code of Judicial Conduct for the District of Columbia Courts. The 2018 edition did not make substantive changes to the 2012 Code but included the following additional material: (1) Appendix A provides an ethical guide concerning the conduct of judicial law clerks; (2) Appendix B lists Opinions of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct through 2017; and (3) Appendix C includes relevant orders and resolutions of the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration.
- On November 21, 2019, the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration (Joint Committee) approved amendments to the Comments to Rules 2.3 and 2.15 concerning: (1) sexual harassment; and (2) discrimination based on gender identity and expression. On March 29, 2021, the Joint Committee approved amendments to Appendix A – Conduct of Law Clerks, primarily to reflect a change to the District of Columbia Courts’ Comprehensive Personnel Policy regarding the provision of pro bono legal services by court employees. Appendix B also was updated to include a new Advisory Opinion issued by the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct on July 10, 2020, on Public Statements, Protests, and Financial Support Concerning Controversial Causes. The 2018 published version of the 2018 edition of the Code of Judicial Conduct for the District of Columbia Courts includes these amendments.
- On March 28, 2022, the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct issued Advisory Opinion No. 15, Judicial Participation in Fundraising, Membership Solicitation, and Grant Applications. This 2022 Supplement updates Appendix B – Opinions of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct to the 2018 edition of the Code of Judicial Conduct to list Advisory Opinion No. 15 and to note that it supersedes Advisory Opinion No. 8.